"What about socialization?" How many times have you heard that question? There are many ways to answer it. Many times, the question comes from well-meaning family members, neighbors, coworkers, and so on, while other times from random strangers on the street who happen to notice that your kids aren't in school during the normal hours.
Whatever the case, it's sometimes a valid question to ask ourselves.
As homeschoolers, we don’t want to overload our kids with activities they aren't interested in, but we also want to give them ample opportunity to interact with people while learning a new skill or hobby in the process. A lot of times these opportunities come through everyday activities such as going to the store or library, attending a local church, and participating in homeschool co-op activities.
If these don't seem like enough, or your child is very interested in making new friends or doing something new, here are a few ideas to explore.
- Volunteering at a local soup kitchen
- Sports teams
- Chess clubs
- FIRST® robotics teams
- Religious clubs such as Awana or Junior Bible Quiz
- Community band
- Running clubs such as Marathon Kids
- Cooking clubs
- Art clubs
- Photography clubs
- Science clubs
- Drama clubs or trying out for a role in a community theater (There are other ways to participate besides being onstage if they don’t like to be in front of people.)
The list could go on and on. Depending on where you live, there is probably a club out there for just about any activity that you could imagine. Get creative with your research. Start online; there are websites like meetup.com that help you find groups that your child might be interested in, but don’t stop there. Contact your local city offices, YMCA, churches, chamber of commerce, or even your local public school to see what kinds of activities are available.
Remember, the goal of these clubs or other nonschool activities is to give your homeschoolers a chance to participate in something new or something they love and make friends while doing it, not to overload them with a bunch of stuff to fill up their day. Don’t do it just because your uncle’s second cousin’s neighbor’s hairdresser asks that dreaded socialization question. Do it because your kids want to and because you feel like it would be a good fit and a good opportunity for them.